The government has agreed to reconsider plans to completely change the name of a key disability benefit, after it heard the new name would be confusing, misleading and could add to hostility towards disabled people.
The disabled peer Baroness [Jane] Campbell called on the government not to rename disability living allowance as “personal independence payment”, but instead to call the new benefit “disability living costs allowance”.
She told peers debating the committee stage of the government’s welfare reform bill: “Those disabled people who need to take advantage of its intent must clearly understand what it is for and who is entitled to it.
“The name should also prevent any media or general public misunderstanding about its purpose.”
She said the government’s proposed new name was inaccurate because it was “supposed to address in a small way disabled people’s extra costs of living with impairment and disabling barriers”.
Baroness Campbell said she had consulted widely with disabled people and disabled people’s groups such as Broken of Britain, as well as members of the National Centre for Independent Living and the government’s Equality 2025 advisory network of disabled people, and “all agreed that the term ‘disability living allowance’ is a far more accurate description of what the benefit is for”.
Baroness [Rosalie] Wilkins, the disabled Labour peer, added: “Now more than ever, this week’s shocking press headlines vilifying disabled people as scroungers could not teach us more clearly that it is essential that the press and public know what this benefit is for, that they are given no excuse for the misinformation, and that the name spells out clearly what is in the tin. It is a disability living costs allowance.”
Baroness Campbell’s proposed amendment to the bill drew striking levels of cross-party support, including backing from Lord Newton, who as Tony Newton was the Conservative secretary of state responsible for introducing DLA in 1992.
Lord Freud, the Conservative welfare reform minister, claimed the new name had “found favour in many quarters”, but agreed to ask Maria Miller, the disabled people’s minister, to reconsider the name and “seek further feedback from disabled people”.
Baroness Campbell said she was “thrilled” that the government had agreed to reconsider the issue, and also said she liked a slightly different version of her suggested name – “personal disability costs payment” – that had been proposed by a fellow peer.
17 November 2011